People past and future:
People past and future:
- The rhythm retains the regular iambic meter into stanza five, though it elides over “people”.
- Unlike in stanza four, there is no word like “every” to slow down the meter, so it stays regular.
- There is a preponderance of monosyllabic words, with very few exceptions, like “never”.
- The enjambment of the pairs of lines is smoother and with no pauses, except for the comma.
- Using the conjunction “and” at the beginning of line three shows that this only a two-item list.
- This is much simpler than the subordination in the previous stanzas, and he can close this out.
- It also draws a clear distinction of the people of the past and future as completely different.
- There is no near-rhyme between lines one and three this time, as also happened in stanza one.
- The end rhyme of lines two and four is very strong, but the “o” sound is different from before.
- The word “see” has been important in the previous end rhymes, so this breaks expectations.
- There is a strong connection between line two of stanza four and line four of stanza five. He is changing the verb from seeing to knowing, with regards to the dominant idea of thinking.
- Within the frame of the poem, Bilbo has not been the protagonist, but only the observer.
- By shifting to knowing over seeing, Bilbo has removed himself completely from past and future.
- The seeing is there, but is now left to other people, and he doesn’t presume to be one of them.
- The alliteration is less prevalent in this stanza, though the “never know” pair may be deceptive. It is a strong “n” alliteration, but it is hidden with “k” in “know”, so it may be missed by a reader.
- The repeated “people” contains four total plosive sounds for the alliteration, which is strong.
- This is the first appearance of people in the poem, and this represents a shift in topic or focus.
- There is also a strong alliteration, all in line three, on the “w” sounds, which echo stanza three.
- The “l” sound is also emphasized, though it is terminal on two of the three words it appears in.
- As “will” and “shall” are near-synonyms, it is interesting that they are connected to the phrase “long ago”, as the former are concerned with the future and the latter phrase is about the past.
- The use of “will” connotes one’s intention, while “shall” is a statement of simple future tense.
- Note: This difference between “will” and “shall” seems to be important throughout The Lord of the Rings, as Tolkien would have been conscious of it and used it intentionally. Therefore, it is important that Frodo says that he “will take the Ring”, as this shows that he is using his own volition and it is not merely being thrust upon him. “Shall” is used far less in current English as it was in the past, but Tolkien tended to prefer older forms, in both denotation and connotation.
- The fact that he uses “shall” to describe what he will “never know” shows that he has no choice.
- The people referred to in the future are implied to be doing what he was doing in stanza one.
- Therefore, it is implied that those people are his heirs, in the sense that they’re following him.
- This removes any sadness about his absence, as he has not made this poem about him at all.
- This also returns the poem to the dominant theme of seeing that has been present throughout.
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